I’d not be surprised (nor critical) if sweeping homeless encampments took a recess during this Covid crisis. Some people cannot meet their rent as unemployment persists. And city government has more pressing matters than these persistent and pop-up “Hoovervilles.”
But the biggest hutments on our streets and sidewalks are not healthy for the campers and can pose a public health nuisance due to indiscriminate defecation and wholly unsanitary lifestyles.
That said, it’s true that what’s needed is additional solution suggestions rather than just your and my criticisms.
The city started a solution. It did not carry it forward far enough.
It set up a homeless-sanctuary in a section of the Sand Island Park.
My suggestion: turn the whole of the barely-used park into both a governed portion with temporary quarters and sanitation facilities. Use the rest as an individual-tent area where the hard-core who live on the streets can relocate as an alternative to having their possessions-on-public-property tossed into the landfill as a result of city sweeps.
In other words, here’s your choice: pack up for Sand Island or say goodbye to all your stuff here.
And in addition to providing sanitation facilities and outreach at Sand Island, the city also should operate a daytime school bus shuttle on a route that includes IHS and other feeding stations, labor department offices, and the center of downtown.
The park must have a permanent police presence, an ambulance, and a skilled homeless mediator on hand 24/7.
As soon as the sanctuary is up and running, sidewalk living should be uncompromisingly prohibited.
Special handling will have to be added for those too mentally impaired to understand their circumstances. We already deal with that with street counselors. Now we need a state law that permits involuntary treatment upon present to any judge of an affidavit of need. Sort of like getting a search warrant signed.
Our current efforts are not working. Compassion and compromise have limited effectiveness.
Sometimes you have to say “here’s the way it’s going to be.”
Our current homeless statistics of more than 6,500 any given day and 45 homeless per 10,000 general population are simply not acceptable from a health standpoint.
It’s time to go drastic.